The Van Abbemuseum is introducing the work of Tomma Abts (Germany, 1967) and Vincent Fecteau (USA, 1969) for the first time in the Netherlands.
The dual solo exhibitions represent two current positions within the traditional disciplines of painting and sculpture. Both artists explore, each in a completely individual manner, the possibilities of an abstract language of form. Yet at the same time their work can be termed anything but abstract. They formulate detailed, actual proposals that are quite separate from any movement or artistic agenda.
Tomma Abts lives and works in London since the mid-Nineties. Her small-sized paintings appear to have been created from zero or from a productive ignorance. Semi-geometric motifs appear in layer upon layer of applied paint. Certain lines or surfaces are painted over or, in fact, made visible again. The completely autonomous compositions hover between materialism and illusionism.
A subtle and nuanced optimism, an aesthetic lightness, emanates from Abts’s paintings. Sometimes they seem like portraits or something ‘living’. The shaded use of colour, their size and enigmatic titles like Ehme or Theiel point in that direction. The works contain strange and unexpected echoes, both from painting from the early twentieth century as well as from a painting fragment from the Italian Renaissance period.
San Francisco is the base from which Vincent Fecteau operates. In his studio he works protractedly on small-scale, three dimensional objects. Using papier-mâché, foam, balsa wood and found objects he makes ambiguous constructions. They apparently hesitate between being models for improbable structures and autonomous sculpture. The many details point to Fecteau’s fascination for physical and conceptual aspects of a handmade object. He is continually searching for balance. Actual objects like a piece of string, half a nutshell or a mundane drawing pin focus the attention on their imaginary shapes. At the same time he sometimes reworks and carefully copies the texture of materials - Fecteau’s objects can sometimes show deliberately applied damage or sloppiness, or a small piece of wood can be real or made of paper. Like Abts, Fecteau works with great concentration on a new visual language. Existing words and references fall far short. The discovery lies hidden in the looking.
The two solo exhibitions are accompanied by a new issue of journal.